AFC Champions League

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AFC Champions League
AFC Champions League crest.png
Founded1967 (2002 in its current format)
RegionAsia (AFC)
Number of teams32
Current championsQatar Al-Sadd SC (2nd title)
Most successful club(s)South Korea Pohang Steelers (3 titles)
WebsiteOfficial website
2012 AFC Champions League
 
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AFC Champions League
AFC Champions League crest.png
Founded1967 (2002 in its current format)
RegionAsia (AFC)
Number of teams32
Current championsQatar Al-Sadd SC (2nd title)
Most successful club(s)South Korea Pohang Steelers (3 titles)
WebsiteOfficial website
2012 AFC Champions League

The AFC Champions League is the premier Asian club football competition hosted annually by Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The tournament is contested among the top thirty-two clubs from the top 10 Asian leagues, two of which must qualify through the playoffs. The champions receive about US$2.25 million in prize money (specific amount depends on record from the group stage) and a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup at the end of the year.

Starting 2009 season, the defending champion no longer receives an automatic berth, forcing them to qualify through their respective domestic league or cup competitions. However, the 2008 champions, Gamba Osaka, and the 2009 champions, Pohang Steelers, both managed to qualify for the following season. In the 2010 edition though, the defending champions, Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma became the first club to fail to secure a spot in the following year's Champions League.

The qualifying round starts in late February and the single-match final takes place in early November at a neutral venue. During the World Cup years, the qualifying rounds tends to start bit earlier.

Pohang Steelers is currently the most successful club in the competition's history, having won their third title in 2009. League-wise, the Korean K-League has 9 titles and is the most successful league competition followed by the Japanese J. League which has 5 previous winners. From 2006 to 2010, The East Asian sides experienced a period of dominance with K-League clubs winning 3 titles (2006, 2009, 2010) and J.League with 2 titles (2007, 2008).

Contents

History

Asian Champion Club Tournament Era (1967–1972)

The competition started as the Asian Champion Club Tournament back in 1967. Eight domestic champions from eight Asian leagues competed in the inaugural season. With the exception of the 1968 season, the tournament was held annually until 1971. During the first four editions, two Israeli clubs, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv won three championships. In 1972, the tournament was canceled due to a lack of interest which eventually resulted in the withdrawal of all participants except for two. The tournament was not held for the next fourteen years; this was also because professionalism in Asian club football did not start till the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Asian Club Championship Era (1985/86–2001/02)

Using the old European Cup as a model, the tournament returned to Asia during the 1985/86 season with a new name, the Asian Club Championship. Entry was restricted to the domestic champions of certain Asian leagues. Even so, a few withdrawals were seen from year to year. From 1990, AFC introduced the Asian Cup Winners Cup which, as the name suggested, was also restricted to domestic cup winners. The winners of

AFC Champions League Era (2002/03–present)

2002/03 season

From 2002/03 season the three major Asian club competitions, Asian Champions Cup, Asian Cup Winners Cup, and Asian Super Cup were merged into one larger tournament and re-branded as the AFC Champions League. In the previous years, the domestic champions and cup winners were sorted into two different continental tournaments, but now both domestic champions and cup winners enter into this larger competition. In the first edition, after several qualifying rounds, a total of sixteen clubs participated in group stage. One club from each group hosted the group stage which were conducted with the single round-robin format in a week. Four group winners then qualified to the semifinals, which were the four hosts of the group stage. The semifinal and the final were contested in two-legged aggregate series.

2003/04 season

The 2003/04 season was cancelled due to the SARS virus outbreak.

2004–2008 seasons

The tournament was re-launched in 2004 season with 28 clubs from fourteen countries. Unlike the previous year, the tournament schedule was changed from March to November. In the group stage, the 28 clubs were divided into seven groups of four on a regional basis, separating East Asian and West Asian clubs to reduce traveling costs, and played double round-robin on a home and away basis. Then, the seven group winners along with the defending champions qualified to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals were two-legged series, with away goals, extra time, and penalties used as tie-breakers. The 2005 season saw Syrian clubs join the competition, thus increasing the number of participating countries to 15, and two years later, following their transfer into the AFC in 2006, Australian clubs were also included in the tournament. With lack of professionalism in Asian football, many problems still existed in the tournament, such as on field violence and late submission of the player registration. Many blamed the lack of prize money and expensive travel cost as the some of the reasons. However, with the introduction of the FIFA World Club Championship in 2005 (now known as FIFA Club World Cup), inclusion of English media via the A-League, and two consecutive wins by Japanese sides, allowed to set up a more competitive and more professional format in 2009.

2009–present

The Champions League expanded to 32 clubs and direct entry is limited to the top ten Asian leagues. Each country will receive up to 4 slots, though no more than one third of the number of teams in that country's top division, rounded downwards, depending on the strength of their league, league structure (professionalism), marketability, financial status, and other criteria set out by the AFC Pro-League committee.[1] The assessment criteria and ranking for participating associations will be revised by AFC every two years, with the most recent ones being approved for 2011–2012 seasons.[2]

The prize money has been significantly increased since 2009 season and the clubs can earn some prize money even at the group stage depending on their performance. The group stage is conducted in the same manner as the previous four tournaments; this time, however, now eight group winners and eight runners-up qualify to the Round of 16, in which group-winners play host to the runners-up in a single match format, matched regionally. The regional restriction is lifted from the further stages, though since 2010 season clubs from the same country cannot face each other in the quarterfinals unless that country has three or more representatives in the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals and the semifinals are played in two-legged series, with away goal, extra time, and penalties used as tie-breakers. The final is played as a single match at a pre-determined neutral venue.

Future Plans (2013–)

The Round of 16 will be a two-legged affair starting 2013. Also, currently venue for the final is debated. During the 2009–2010 seasons, the final was held at a pre-determined neutral venue; Tokyo, Japan in both seasons. However, for the 2011–2012 seasons, the final will be held at one of the finalists home stadium determined by the draw of lots. After studying these two cases, the venue for the finals for 2013 season and onward will be determined. [3]

Current Regulations

Qualification

AFC Final Assessment Ranking for 2009–2012 seasons

The qualifications are based on AFC Final Assessment Rankings (see below). The assessments was conducted by AFC Pro-League committee during 2006–2008, and is based on the football competitiveness, professionalism, marketability, and financial status of the league and its clubs. Leagues can have up to four spots, but no more than one third of the number of teams in that country's top division, rounded downwards. However, some leagues may have to enter their clubs through qualifying playoffs. The previous year AFC Cup finalists may also enter qualifying play-offs given that their league meets the AFC Champions League criteria.

The new assessment ranking was expected to be published in November 2010, with an intention to it being updated every two years.[4] However, after realizing that newly set criteria are hard to be implemented on time, AFC decided to maintain the existing allocation scheme for two more seasons and postpone the publishing of a new ranking for one year till November 2011. This ranking is expected to be applied for 2013 season onwards.[5]

AFC Final Assessment Ranking for 2012 season
West Asia
PosMember
Association
ClubsSpots
Group stagePlay-offAFC CupAFC Cup Playoff
Qatar Qatar124000
United Arab Emirates UAE123100
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia143100
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan143100
Iran Iran182200
Syria Syria140020
India India140020
Kuwait Kuwait80030
Iraq Iraq360020
Jordan Jordan120020
Oman Oman120020
Lebanon Lebanon120020
Maldives Maldives80011
Yemen Yemen140011
Bahrain Bahrain100000
Tajikistan Tajikistan100000
Pakistan Pakistan160000
Palestinian territories Palestine220000
Meet the criteria
Do not meet the criteria
East Asia
PosMember
Association
ClubsSpots
Group stagePlay-offAFC CupAFC Cup Playoff
Japan Japan184000
South Korea Korea Republic16*3100
China China PR163000
Australia Australia9+1**2100
Thailand Thailand181100
Indonesia Indonesia180110
Vietnam Vietnam140020
Hong Kong Hong Kong100020
Singapore Singapore12***0020
Malaysia Malaysia140011
Myanmar Myanmar120011

* One of the K-League clubs, Sangju Sangmu Phoenix, is unable to qualify for the ACL because the team is not a commercial entity and their players are not professionally contracted.[5]

** One of the A-League clubs, Wellington Phoenix, is based in New Zealand, an OFC member country. They are unable to qualify for the ACL.[6]

*** Two of the S.League clubs, Etoile FC and Albirex Niigata (S), are based in Singapore, but are foreign clubs. One other clubs from the S. League, the Young Lions, consists of players of the Singapore under-23 national team and is under direct control of the FAS. They are unable to qualify for the ACL.

Tournament Format

Qualifying play-off

2 teams from Iran play semi-finals. The winner of semi-final joins 3 teams from west Asia and 4 teams from east Asia, knock-out round, each 1 leg, on a regional basis, 2 winners from west and 2 winners from east qualify for the group stage. 2 losers from west and 2 losers from east go to AFC Cup group stage.

Group Stage

A total of 32 clubs are divided into 8 groups of four, based on region i.e. East Asian and South-east Asian clubs are drawn in Group E to H, while the rest are grouped in Group A to D. Each group is a double round robin, for a total of 6 matches for each team. Clubs receive 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss. The clubs are ranked according to points and tie breakers are in following order:

The eight group winners and eight runners-up qualify to the Knock-out Round.

Knock-out Round, Round-of-16

Group winners vs group runners-up, 1 leg, on a regional basis.

Knock-out Round, Quarterfinals & Semifinal

All 8 clubs are randomly matched; however, starting 2010 season,[7] the clubs from same country cannot face each other in the quarter-finals. The games are conducted in 2 legs -home and away- where the aggregate goals decides the match winner. If the aggregate goals cannot produce a winner the away goals rule is used. If still tied the clubs play extra time, where the away goals rule still applies. If still tied after extra time, the game goes to penalties.

Final

One 90-min game at a neutral venue. If tied after regulation, extra-time, penalty kick will be used to produce a winner.

Sponsors

On 5 November 2008 it was announced that Qatar’s leading telecom company Qtel will sponsor the 2011 AFC Asian Cup and the AFC Champions League from 2009–2012.[8]

On 8 January 2009 it was confirmed that Emirates Airline signed a four-year extension to its sponsorship deal with AFC.[9]

In November 2009, the AFC signed a $1 billion 8-year deal with WSG starting 2013. Most of this money will be allocated to the AFC Champions League.[10]

Prize money

The budget for the tournament has increased from US $4 million in 2008 ($4.3178 million in 2012 US dollars[11]) to US $20 million in 2009 ($21.666 million in 2012 US dollars[11]), with the total prize pool now equalling US $14 million. The winner receives US $1.5 million in prize money plus additional winnings collected from the earlier rounds.[12][13] Clubs receive a travel subsidy for each away match. Thus, for each round of 16 tie, only one club receives a travel subsidy.

Group stages
Round of 16
Quarter-finals
Semi-finals
Final

Participating Associations

AssociationsSpots
2002/03200420052006200720082009201020112012
East Asia
Australia Australia222223
China China PR2222224443
Indonesia Indonesia0220201110
Japan Japan2222234444
South Korea Korea Republic2222324444
Singapore Singapore0000001100
Thailand Thailand2220120001
Vietnam Vietnam0222120000
Total812128131316161515
West Asia
Bahrain Bahrain0200000000
India India0000000000
Iran Iran2222124443
Iraq Iraq1222220000
Kuwait Kuwait0222220000
Qatar Qatar1222222234
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia1233224443
Syria Syria0022220000
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan1000000000
United Arab Emirates UAE1322224444
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan1222222223
Total8171717151616161717
Total
16292925282932323232

Asian Champions League Finals

Asian Champion Club Tournament (1967–1972)

SeasonWinnerScoreRunner-upVenue
1967Hapoel Tel Aviv
Israel
2 – 1Selangor FA
Malaysia
Thailand Bangkok
1969Maccabi Tel Aviv
Israel
1 – 0Yangzee FC
South Korea
Thailand Bangkok
1970Taj (Esteghlal Tehran FC)
Iran
2 – 1Hapoel Tel Aviv
Israel
Iran Amjadieh Stadium, Tehran
1971Maccabi Tel Aviv
Israel
2 – 01Al-Shorta Club
Iraq
Thailand Bangkok

1 The final was scratched and Maccabi were awarded the championship after Al-Shorta refused to play in the final for political reasons.

Asian Club Championship (1985–2002)

SeasonWinnerScoreRunner-upVenue
1985–86Daewoo Royals
South Korea
3 – 1Al-Ahli SC
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia Jeddah
1986–87Furukawa Electric
Japan
1Al-Hilal FC
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia Riyadh
1987–88Yomiuri FC
Japan
w/o2Al-Hilal FC
Saudi Arabia
Two-leg finals
1988–89Al-Sadd SC
Qatar
3 – 3
(aggregate, away goals win)
Al-Rasheed SC
Iraq
Two-leg finals
1989–90Liaoning FC
China
3 – 2
(aggregate)
Nissan FC
Japan
Two-leg finals
1990–91Esteghlal FC
Iran
2 – 1Liaoning FC
China
Bangladesh Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka
1991–92Al-Hilal FC
Saudi Arabia
1 – 1
(4–3 PSO)
Esteghlal FC
Iran
Qatar Doha
1992–93PAS Tehran FC
Iran
1 – 0Al-Shabab Club
Saudi Arabia
 Bahrain
1993–94Thai Farmers Bank FC
Thailand
2 – 1Oman Club
Oman
Thailand Bangkok
1994–95Thai Farmers Bank FC
Thailand
1 – 0Al-Arabi SC
Qatar
Thailand Bangkok
1995–96Ilhwa Chunma
South Korea
1 – 0Al-Nassr FC
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia King Fahd Stadium, Riyadh
1996–97Pohang Steelers
South Korea
2 – 1Cheonan Ilhwa Chunma
South Korea
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur
1997–98Pohang Steelers
South Korea
0 – 0
(6–5 PSO)
Dalian Wanda
China
Hong Kong Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong
1998–99Júbilo Iwata
Japan
2 – 1Esteghlal FC
Iran
Iran Azadi Stadium, Tehran
1999-00Al-Hilal FC
Saudi Arabia
3 – 2Júbilo Iwata
Japan
Saudi Arabia King Fahd Stadium, Riyadh
2000–01Suwon Samsung Bluewings
South Korea
1 – 0Júbilo Iwata
Japan
South Korea Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon
2001–02Suwon Samsung Bluewings
South Korea
0 – 0
(4–2 PSO)
Anyang LG Cheetahs
South Korea
Iran Azadi Stadium, Tehran

1 The championship was decided in a final pool of four teams.
2 The final was scratched and Yomiuri FC were awarded the championship after Al-Hilal objected to the match officials that were chosen for the first leg and refused to participate in the final.

AFC Champions League (2002/03-present)

Two-leg finals (2002/03–2008)
YearHome teamScoreAway teamVenueAttendance
2002/03United Arab Emirates Al-Ain FC2–0Thailand BEC Tero SasanaTahnoun Bin Mohamed Stadium
Thailand BEC Tero Sasana1–0United Arab Emirates Al-Ain FCRajamangala Stadium
Al-Ain FC won 2 – 1 on aggregate
2004Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad FC1–3South Korea Seongnam Ilhwa ChunmaPrince Abdullah al-Faisal stadium
South Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma0–5Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad FCTancheon Sports Complex
Al-Ittihad FC won 6 – 3 on aggregate
2005United Arab Emirates Al-Ain FC1–1Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad FCTahnoun Bin Mohamed Stadium
Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad FC4–2United Arab Emirates Al-Ain FCPrince Abdullah al-Faisal stadium
Al-Ittihad FC won 5 – 3 on aggregate
2006South Korea Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors2–0Syria Al-Karamah SCJeonju World Cup Stadium25,830
Syria Al-Karamah SC2–1South Korea Jeonbuk Hyundai MotorsKhaled bin Walid Stadium40,000
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors won 3 – 2 on aggregate
2007Iran Sepahan FC1–1Japan Urawa Red DiamondsFoolad Shahr Stadium30,000
Japan Urawa Red Diamonds2–0Iran Sepahan FCSaitama Stadium 200259,034
Urawa Red Diamonds won 3 – 1 on aggregate
2008Japan Gamba Osaka3–0Australia Adelaide UnitedOsaka Expo '70 Stadium20,639
Australia Adelaide United0–2Japan Gamba OsakaHindmarsh Stadium17,000
Gamba Osaka won 5 – 0 on aggregate
One leg finals (2009–present)
SeasonWinnerScoreRunner-upVenueAttendance
2009South Korea Pohang Steelers2–1Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad FCJapan National Stadium, Tokyo25,743
2010South Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma3–1Iran Zob Ahan FCJapan National Stadium, Tokyo27,308
2011Qatar Al-Sadd SC2 – 2
(4–2 PSO)
South Korea Jeonbuk Hyundai MotorsSouth Korea Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Jeonju41,805

Participating Associations by Debut

Asian Club Championship (included qualifying round)

Italics are withdrawn associations.

YearNew Entry Team(s)
1967 Hong Kong,  Israel,  Malaysia,  South Korea,  South Vietnam,  Thailand
1969 India,  Iran,  Japan,  Philippines
1970 Indonesia,  Lebanon
1971 Iraq,  Kuwait
1986 Afghanistan,  Bahrain,  Bangladesh,  Brunei,  China,  Jordan,  Macau,  Maldives,  Myanmar,  Nepal,  North Korea,  North Yemen,  Oman,  Pakistan,  Qatar,  Saudi Arabia,  Singapore,  South Yemen,  Sri Lanka,  Syria,  United Arab Emirates,
1987 South Yemen
1988None
1989 North Yemen
1990 Yemen
1991None
1992None
1993 Vietnam
1994None
1995 Kazakhstan,  Kyrgyzstan,  Tajikistan,  Turkmenistan,  Uzbekistan
1996 Guam
1997None
1998None
1999 Palestinian territories
2000 Cambodia
2001None
2002None

AFC Champions League

YearNew Entry Team(s)
2003 Brunei,  China,  Hong Kong,  India,  Indonesia,  Iran,  Iraq,  Japan,  Jordan,  Kuwait,  Kyrgyzstan,  Lebanon,  Macau,  Maldives,  Qatar,  Saudi Arabia,  South Korea,  Sri Lanka,  Syria,  Thailand,  Turkmenistan,  United Arab Emirates,  Uzbekistan,  Vietnam,  Yemen
2004 Bahrain
2005None
2006None
2007 Australia
2008None
2009 Singapore
2010None
2011None
2012None

Non Participating Associations

AFC Champions League records and statistics

By Nation

The following table lists countries by number of winners and runner-up in AFC Champions League (Asian Club Championship also included).

South Korea is the current leader with 9 titles.

NationWinnersRunners-up
 South Korea96
 Japan53
 Saudi Arabia46
 Iran34
 Israel31
 Thailand21
 Qatar21
 China12
 United Arab Emirates11
 Iraq02
 Australia01
 Malaysia01
 Oman01
 Syria01

By Club

The following table lists Clubs by number of winners and runner-up in AFC Champions League (Asian Club Championship also included).

TeamWinnersRunners-UpYears WonYears Lost
South Korea Pohang Steelers301996–97, 1997–98, 2009-
Iran Esteghlal FC221970, 1990–911991–92, 1998–99
Saudi Arabia Al-Hilal FC221991–92, 1999–20001986–87, 1987–88
South Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma221995–96, 20101996–97, 2004
Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad FC212004, 20052009
Qatar Al-Sadd SC201988–89, 2011-
South Korea Suwon Samsung Bluewings202000–01, 2001–02-
Thailand Thai Farmers Bank FC201993–94, 1994–95-
Israel Maccabi Tel Aviv201969, 1971-
Japan Jubilo Iwata121998–991999–2000, 2000–2001
South Korea Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors1120062011
United Arab Emirates Al-Ain FC112002–032005
China Liaoning FC111989–901990–91
Israel Hapoel Tel Aviv1119671970
Japan Gamba Osaka102008-
Japan Urawa Red Diamonds102007-
Iran PAS Tehran FC101992–93-
Japan Tokyo Verdy101987–88-
Japan JEF United Chiba101986–87-
South Korea Busan IPark101985–86-
Iran Zob Ahan Isfahan FC01-2010
Australia Adelaide United01-2008
Iran Sepahan FC01-2007
Syria Al-Karamah SC01-2006
Thailand BEC Tero Sasana01-2002–03
South Korea FC Seoul01-2001–02
China Dalian Wanda01-1997–98
Saudi Arabia Al-Nassr FC01-1995–96
Qatar Al-Arabi SC01-1994–95
Oman Oman Club01-1993–94
Saudi Arabia Al-Shabab FC01-1992–93
Japan Yokohama F. Marinos01-1989–90
Iraq Al-Rasheed SC01-1988–89
Saudi Arabia Al-Ahli SC01-1985–86
Iraq Al-Shorta Club01-1972
South Korea Yangzee FC01-1969
Malaysia Selangor FA01-1967

By Club Statistics

Top scorers

YearFootballerClubGoals
2002–03China Hao HaidongChina Dalian Shide9
2004South Korea Kim Do-HoonSouth Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma9
2005Sierra Leone Mohamed KallonSaudi Arabia Al-Ittihad6
2006Brazil Magno AlvesJapan Gamba Osaka9
2007Brazil MotaSouth Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma7
2008Thailand Nantawat ThansopaThailand Krung Thai Bank9
2009Brazil LeandroJapan Gamba Osaka10
2010Brazil Jose MotaSouth Korea Suwon Samsung Bluewings9
2011South Korea Lee Dong-GookSouth Korea Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors9

Fair Play Award

YearClub
2008Japan Gamba Osaka
2009South Korea Pohang Steelers
2010South Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma
2011South Korea Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

See also

References

External links